Born and raised in Northeastern Illinois, and he would reference his formative years there in many of his later works, Ray Bradbury spent his teen years in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938 and stayed in the L.A. area, eventually becoming a full time writer in 1943 (after he was deemed unfit for military service due to his vision problems.) He started out writing short stories for the various magazine and pulp markets of the era. His first novels: The Martian Chronicles, a collection of short stories about mankind's attempts to colonize Mars, and Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic novel that works as a scathing indictment of censorship and oppression, eventually became literary classics. Both novels are perpetually kept in print and taught in schools around the world. During his writing career which spanned the entirety of his life, Bradbury wrote hundreds of short stories, poems and essays. He wrote the screenplay for the great director John Huston's version of Moby Dick starring Gregory Peck, and he wrote many teleplays, most notably for The Ray Bradbury Theatre television series which ran from 1985 to 1992. Bradbury passed away in Los Angeles on June 5th, 2012 at the age of 91.
Bradbury came to the world of comics in a fairly roundabout way. In 1951 William Gaines' E.C. Comics under the auspices of editor/writer Al Feldstein published a direct swipe of Bradbury's short story The Emissary. Published in The Vault of Horror #22, What The Dog Dragged In with art by Jack Kamen, was the first unauthorized adaptation of Bradbury's work. It was followed by a swipe of his story The Handler published as A Strange Undertaking with art by Graham Ingels in Haunt of Fear #6, and most importantly, Home To Stay with art by Wally Wood, published in Weird Fantasy #13. Home To Stay was a combination of two of Bradbury's short stories, Kaleidoscope and The Rocket Man and it caught his attention. In an unprecedented move, Bradbury sent Gaines the following letter:
Just a note to remind you of an oversight. You have not as of yet sent on the check for $50.00 to cover the use of secondary rights on my two stories THE ROCKET MAN and KALEIDOSCOPE which appeared in your WEIRD-FANTASY May-June '52, #13, with the cover-all title of HOME TO STAY. I feel this was probably overlooked in the general confusion of office-work, and look forward to your payment in the near future. My very best wishes to you.
That letter is reproduced in Grant Geissman’s excellent historical work, Foul Play!: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics. In the postscript to that letter, Bradbury offered to send E.C. copies of his stories for further "authorized" publishing. This led to an excellent working relationship with the publisher that spanned the next few years during which E.C. published a total of 25 authorized adaptations of Bradbury's short stories. Here's the list:
#15 (1953) The Screaming Woman art by Jack Kamen
#17 (1953) Touch And Go art by Johnny Craig
Haunt Of Fear
#6 (1951) A Strange Undertaking art by Graham Ingels (swipe of The Handler)
#16 (1952) The Coffin! art by Jack Davis (E.C.'s first authorized adaptation)
#18 (1953) The Black Ferris! art by Jack Davis
#7 (1953) The Small Assassin art by George Evans
#9 (1953) The October Game art by Jack Kamen
Tales From The Crypt
#34 (1953) There Was An Old Woman art by Graham Ingels
#36 (1953) The Handler art by Graham Ingels (This time authorized.)
The Vault Of Horror
#22 (1951) What The Dog Dragged In art by Jack Kamen (The first of the unauthorized swipes. Based on The Emissary.)
#29 (1953) Let's Play Poison art by Jack Davis
#31 (1953) The Lake art by Joe Orlando
#13 (1952) Home To Stay art by Wally Wood (swipe of The Rocket Man and Kaleidoscope.)
#14 (1952) Mad Journey art by Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta and Roy Krenkel (based on The Earthmen)
#17 (1953) There Will Come Soft Rains art by Wally Wood
#18 (1953) Zero Hour art by Jack Kamen
#19 (1953) King Of The Gray Spaces art by John Severin and Will Elder
#20 (1953) I, Rocket art by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta
#21 (1953) The Million Year Picnic art by John Severin and Will Elder
#22 (1953) The Silent Towns art by Reed Crandall
#17 (1953) The Long Years art by Joe Orlando
#18 (1953) Mars Is Heaven art by Wally Wood
#19 (1953) The One Who Waits art by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta
#20 (1953) Surprise Package art by Jack Kamen (adapted from Changeling)
#21 (1953) Punishment Without Crime art by Jack Kamen
#22 (1953) Outcast Of The Stars art by Joe Orlando
Weird Science - Fantasy
#23 (1954) The Flying Machine art by Bernard Krigstein
#25 (1954) A Sound Of Thunder art by Al Williamson, Angelo Torres and Roy Krenkel
Bradbury's ultimate goal in allowing a comics publisher to adapt his works was to create a graphic novel of his interconnected Mars stories that would have been titled Rockets To Mars. Unfortunately nothing ever came of this venture and by 1955 Fredric Wertham's notorious crusade and the imposition of The Comics Code Authority had effectively gutted E.C. Bradbury distanced himself from E.C. and comics in general to better pursue his budding screenwriting career. A decade later however, he re-published his E.C. work in two mass market paperbacks, The Autumn People (1965) and Tomorrow Midnight (1966).
Years later in 1993, Byron Preiss gathered many of the top comics artists to produce a series of seven graphic novels which resulted in The Ray Bradbury Chronicles. They were originally published as hardcovers through NBM, and later reprinted as floppies by Topps Comics.
Other Media Work
70+ years worth of professional writing career gets you published in a lot of places, and Ray Bradbury was prolific indeed. In addition to his 50 novels and over 1000 short stories, he has written poems, screenplays, teleplays, radio scripts, countless non fiction works including: introductions, pull quotes and essays. What follows is a selected list of some of his more notable non comics works:
Dark Carnival (collection) Arkham House 1947
The Martian Chronicles (interconnected collection) Doubleday 1950
The Illustrated Man (interconnected collection) Doubleday 1951
Fahrenheit 451 Ballantine 1953
The Golden Apples of the Sun (collection) Doubleday 1953
The October Country (collection) Ballantine 1955
Dandelion Wine (interconnected collection) Doubleday 1957
A Medicine For Melancholy (collection) Doubleday 1959
Something Wicked This Way Comes Simon and Schuster 1962
R Is For Rocket (collection) Doubleday 1962
The Machineries Of Joy (collection) Simon and Schuster 1964
S Is For Space (collection) Doubleday 1966
I Sing The Body Electric (collection) Knopf 1969
The Halloween Tree Knopf 1972
Long After Midnight (collection) Knopf 1976
Death Is A Lonely Business Knopf 1985
The Toynbee Convector (collection) Knopf 1988
A Graveyard For Lunatics Knopf 1990
Let's All Kill Constance William Morrow 2002
One More For The Road William Morrow 2002
Farewell Summer (has the sad distinction of being the last of Bradbury's novels released during his lifetime.) William Morrow 2006
Summer Morning Summer Night PS Publishing 2007
A Pleasure To Burn Harper Collins 2011
Movies and Television
It Came From Outer Space (based on the short story) 1953
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (based on the short story The Fog Horn) 1953
Moby Dick (screenplay) 1956
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Series) 1956-1962
The Twilight Zone (TV Series) I Sing The Body Electric 1962
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV Series) 1964
Fahrenheit 451 (based on the novel) 1966
The Illustrated Man (based on the novel) 1969
The Picasso Summer (screenplay) 1969
Something Wicked This Way Comes (based on the novel) 1972
The Martian Chronicles (TV Mini Series) 1980
The Electric Grandmother (based on the short story I Sing The Body Electric) (teleplay)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Disney version) (screenplay) 1983
The New Twilight Zone (TV Series) 1985-1986
The Ray Bradbury Theatre (TV Series) 1985-1992
The Halloween Tree (screenplay) 1993
Chrysalis (based on the short story) 2008
The Science Fiction Writers of America award for outstanding dramatic presentation is named after Bradbury. The Bradbury Award is a special recognition given out yearly at the Nebula Awards banquet and it's sort of a catch all award that can be given to any movie, television, radio script or play. The statuette was designed by American sculptor Vincent Villafranca, and it references Bradbury's Martian Chronicles stories. The little guy with the hammer has a typewriter ball for a head in reference to Bradbury's preference for writing on an IBM Selectric electric typewriter. Ray Bradbury has won many awards over the span of his career, including:
1977 - World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
1980 - Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy Award.
1984 - Prometheus Award given by the Libertarian Futurists Society for Fahrenheit 451.
1989 - Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in horror fiction.
1989 - Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award.
1994 - Emmy Award for the screenplay, The Halloween Tree.
2000 - Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Bradbury was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 1, 2002
2004 - Retro Hugo Award for Fahrenheit 451 (1954)
On November 17, 2004, Bradbury received of the National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
On April 16, 2007, Bradbury received a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize jury "for his distinguished, prolific, and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy."